Worshiping The Golden Calf -Flicker Creative Commons
Once again we have various blogs and diaries and even some of the more astute journalists trying to come up with why the right is the way it is and the left is the way it is and on and on. Looking for simple answers but simplistic would come closer to the mark, I think. In order to come to some understanding, one needs to examine the history of North America. Not just this country, bu the whole of the continent.
From the time Columbus bumped into Hispaniola and thought it was India, this area has been about money. Mercantilism. Either stealing as much as possible from the natives, like the Spanish and French did or using it as a place to grow and/or produce some other way goods – stuff to be sold at an outrageous price back in Europe. Nearly all of the original settlements and colonies were established for this purpose.
And the whole point of the revolution carried out against England by the descendants of these original people was to keep all of the money themselves instead of having to fork it over to the King. Business as they say was the original intent. Those that came over to escape religious or some other repression, came later.
But wealth and the attainment or it was nearly always revered. As expressed by Calvin Coolidge.
The man who builds a factory, builds a temple. The man who works there worships there. “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.“
But it goes even beyond that. It has to do with our history and our culture or rather our lack of any singular native culture. America is the first country and one of only a few other countries made up almost entirely of people from other cultures and countries. Each with their own cultures and beliefs and customs and what not. Unlike the countries Europe and Asia and Africa etc. All with a long and ancient history and their own unique customs and cultures. All which bring the people there together on a basic level.
America has never been invaded or occupied or suffered through various despotic totalitarian regimes. Nor have we had any major wars fought on our soil by outside forces. And having two major worlds wars fought on your soil like Europe has had – seeing you towns and cities and homes turned to ruble, your friends and family killed before your very eyes – changes your attitude toward you fellows significantly. In this respect alone, America has lead a fairly charmed life.
And this lack of a deeply shared culture and shared history leaves a lot of people with little to hold onto. So racial and economic identities are what is left. Couple that with a history of individual personal gain as the primary motivation and you have what we have today. The religious aspect of this is to me, at any rate, another way of justifying this. Our very history is one of European immigrants hoping to “Make it rich” some day. The Horatio Alger myth runs very, very deep within the American psyche and this is true regardless of ones political leanings. And it’s about the only thing that most people share in this culture.
I would hazard to guess that cultural identity is stronger in African Americans and Native Americans than in the European decedents since they have a closer shared history.
Which is to me a few of the reasons we are where we are. And despite the gross economic injustices, we do not see thousands of people in the streets marching and protesting like there is in Greece or has been in Spain or France. It would be akin to protesting ones own identity.